Web Service-Based Meta-Search for Accommodations
Information about available hotel rooms can be found in many different sites today. However, the problem is that first, a tourist does not know which site to access and second, if he/she finds certain sites, how to compare the results of these sites. We describe an advanced meta-search engine designed to search for available accommodation in different search portals. The engine can be accessed from different platforms such as Internet browser, public multimedia Internet terminals, or mobile devices such as PDAs or cell phones. The engine is applied in two different scenarios: a destination management system uses the meta-search to bundle the services of different search engines for a certain tourism destination, or a service provider offers a mobile solution to its clients, where dependent on the position of the mobile client or other context attributes, an accommodation is searched for nearby. The solution is based on Web service interfaces to the individual search engines and the meta-search again is deployed as a Web service to enable the easy integration into other applications. This also supports the implementation for different client platforms, because only the presentation layer has to be adapted. The system solves problems of different representational concepts in different used search engines. The engine includes geographical services such as geo-coding or map representation delivered by external providers. Because the search engines use different data, different geographic concepts, and different granularities of knowledge, we use a domain ontology to translate between concepts.
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Information Technology & Tourism is the first scientific journal dealing with the exciting relationship between information technology and tourism. Information and communication systems embedded in a global net have profound influence on the tourism and travel industry. Reservation systems, distributed multimedia systems, highly mobile working places, electronic markets, and the dominant position of tourism applications in the Internet are noticeable results of this development. And the tourism industry poses several challenges to the IT field and its methodologies.
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